Court King says there is one message he learned loud and clear from his grandfather who raised him: "If you don't have the money, you don't need it." And he's taken that message to heart. He began working at 15, started saving, and leaned into frugality. King learned to value experience over material possessions and always embraced the importance of living within his means.
After college, he moved to Europe. A self-described "jack of all trades," King worked in a five-star restaurant, spent over two years in the Peace Corps, and also worked as an accountant and winemaker before becoming a flight attendant.
Meanwhile, his now-husband Rafael Gondim grew up one of four kids in Brazil and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 10. Like King, he quickly learned not to live outside of his means. "My dad taught me if I don't have the money, then don't buy it," he recalls. Gondim also learned that "money is a tool to be able to improve your life and to enjoy experiences."
In college, he studied architecture and enjoyed traveling on a study abroad so much that he also ended up going into the Peace Corps after school. Later, he became a flight attendant for United Airlines. And that's how, in 2007, he met King. The pair moved to New York City and were both accepted into a teaching program, committed to becoming educators.
"The year we graduated, we had started applying for the foster care system," explains Gondim. "We wanted to be parents, but we didn't have the financial ability to become parents. " As it turned out, in 2010, they would welcome their first foster child, a boy named Gabriel, who they later adopted.
After several years of raising their son and working as teachers, the couple celebrated their anniversary and ended up having a game-changing conversation. They discussed how much they loved living in New York, but needed a change. Having saved some money, they considered buying a house in upstate New York or taking a year off and going on a trip around the world. "The big thing is the expensive hotels and lodging—that's huge," notes King. "We said, 'How can we do that? How can we make lodging more affordable?'"
That's when the lightbulb went off. They thought of their friend who had just come back from a catamaran trip. Soon, the couple decided to look into getting their own and planned to spend the next five years working toward the goal of traveling the world as a family on the water.
Disappointed to learn that the cost was out of their budget, they decided to turn the finished basement of their three-story house into an Airbnb and saved money for the boat.
But when they learned their dream boat was available at a discount, their five-year plan became a six-month plan. The couple put their house on the market within a day of writing a check for $100K—which they saved by living on just one salary and banking the other—as a deposit for the boat.
"That was huge and really hard for me, because for the first time in our lives, we're putting money on something that we didn't have the money for yet," recalls Gondim. "We knew the money could come, but for the first time in our lives, we didn't have the liquid money to be able to do something like that."
But in the end, they didn't want to miss out on the opportunity, he explains.
Knowing they needed to make money while they were on the boat, Gondim and King founded a charter company called The Wind Expedition, focused on all-inclusive luxury vacations aboard the catamaran. And in September 2017, the couple and their son left New York City.
Now, the family is working hard hosting their guests, but it doesn't feel like it. "At the end of the day, it's a lot of work, but what we love is hosting," says Gondim. "We love having people on board. I love cooking. We didn't want to feel like we were working, and this doesn't feel like work ever."
In addition to being entrepreneurs, they're devoted dads who both homeschool Gabriel four hours a day, four days a week. And when the work is done, they're able to live their dream of traveling, on the water, from one destination to the next as a happy, thriving family.
Here are Gondim and King's best money and parenting tips.
Focus on the True Definition of Wealth
King believes that wealth means spending less than you're making. "No matter what, it's all relative," he notes. "It depends on where you are, what you're doing. As long as you're saving more than you're spending, you're wealthy. You can make $500K a year, but if you're spending $400K on clothes and diamonds, you are not wealthy, you're poor."
Embrace the Basics
From the start, Gondim and King both infused their parenting style with the frugality they grew up with. They borrowed strollers from friends and opted for a Montessori, minimalist approach when it came to toys. "We wanted five toys [for Gabriel]—all wooden," explains King. "We literally told people don't get us anything plastic, and if it makes noise, we don't want it."
He continues, "The experience of child doesn't have to be an extravagant experience—all those little things and gadgets that come along with it. We just want the basics."
Get Serious About Saving
The year before they set sail, the couple lived off of King's salary alone while Gondim's principal salary went into the bank every month. "We ignored that account, like it didn't exist," explains King. "And that's how we were able to save the almost $100K we had to put down on the boat."
Teach Kids About Options
Gondim and King constantly have conversations with their son to help him understand he has choices. "[We say], 'Look, Daddy and I live in a boat because we chose to. We worked hard, and this was opportunity that we had," says Gondim. They also explain that in order to have these types of choices, a person has to think about what they will do in school and saving money. "Money gives you choices. And if you don't have a way of making money, then you're not going to have as many choices," adds Gondim.
Fostering financial independence is key too. King explains that they started a savings account for Gabriel early on and would put a percentage of any of the monetary gifts he received in his savings account. "I want him to know that he can amass money, and he can be financially secure. I want him to understand the way the world works and how finances work," says King. There's one more important lesson they hope Gabriel learns: "Your experiences are more important than all these things you can have. You just need to save a little bit," says King.
Seize the Moment
Both Gondim and King encourage other parents to live in the present. "Follow your dreams, and live the life that you imagined, because it can be incredible," says King. "Don't wait. And when those options come up, seize them immediately. Jump in."
Gondim adds, "Don't be afraid. Be brave. Don't wait."